5 ‘secured smartphones’ that protect sensitive data and stop cyberattacks

Devices like the Solarin that use military-grade encryption safeguard sensitive data, such as corporate information, and while some have hefty price tags others are no dearer than a regular phone

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 June, 2016, 6:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 June, 2016, 6:00am

The post-Snowden era has seen a boom in “secured smartphones” that put privacy first.

The latest is the Solarin, a luxury smartphone with an emphasis on military-grade security. It’s aimed at jet-setting businesspeople who carry around sensitive corporate information and want to protect it.

Growth in demand for encrypted apps no cause for alarm, say tech experts

The brainchild of Sweden and Tel Aviv-based Sirin Labs, Solarin is designed to battle cyberattacks and snooping. It’s armed with 256-bit AES encryption – used by the military to keep communications secret – as well as Zimperium mobile threat protection software.

Solarin has a security switch on the rear that, once toggled on, encrypts calls and messages.

“Cyberattacks are endemic across the globe,” says Tal Cohen, chief executive and co-founder of Sirin. “Just one attack can severely harm reputations and finances.”

Solarin uses the Android OS, it has a 23.8-megapixel camera with laser autofocus, the very latest Wi-fi that promises three times faster web downloads and browsing, and Qualcomm Quick Charge.

All for HK$105,000.

Likewise, the Vertu Signature Touch can cost as much as HK$140,000, though it’s as much about style as security. As well as a 24-hour worldwide assistance and Kaspersky anti-virus software, this Android-based phone includes Silent Circle, which enables encrypted voice, text, file transfer and voice memos.

However, you’ll find the same thing on the Blackphone 2 from Silent Circle itself, which comes in at a more palatable HK$6,600, and adds fine-tune settings for app permissions and the sharing of personal data. This one also has “virtual” modes so can work as both a personal and work phone, keeping each completely separate and secured.

Another budget offering comes from GranitePhone, a HK$6,595 phone that runs GraniteOS for full encrypted communication, while the Blackberry PRIV phone – available for about HK$5,800 – lets you know when your data could be at risk, and offers to encrypt everything.

With security-conscious handsets like these around, you might think that Apple’s iPhone is a step behind. However, as February’s story about the FBI’s very public demand for Apple to unlock one of its phones proves, iPhones are encrypted.

life@scmp.com